From Hurricanes to a Pandemic

October 28, 2021, marked the 80th anniversary of Gulf Coast Electric Cooperative (GCEC)

Bucket trucks line the road as mutual aid crews arrive to help Gulf Coast Electric Cooperative rebuild following Hurricane Michael in 2018.

2014 to 2015

  • Florida’s “Move Over” law—enacted in 2002—was amended in 2014 to include sanitation and utility vehicles.
  • In 2015, Rudolph Brown, Jimbo Nunery, and Mayo Wilson retired from GCEC.


  • Power poles are pulledby boat through the Apalachicola River for work at Lister Landing and Howard Creek.

    Crews completed work in Lister Landing and Howard Creek—areas only accessible by water. Poles were transported by boat on the Apalachicola River.

  • An award was established in the memory of employee Tomica Lowery. It recognizes an employee who appreciates fundamental human needs of fellow employees, communicates clearly with co-workers, and increases organizational commitment, which encompasses employee satisfaction, enjoyment at work, and lowering negative efforts, all leading to lower absenteeism and job stress. The first recipient was Francis Hinson.
  • GCEC added an outage map to its website—a benefit for members and the news media.
  • Sid Dykes retired after 41 years of service.
  • GCEC helped Talquin Electric restore power following Hurricane Hermine. 2017
  • Francis Hinson was promoted to Chief Operating Officer and John Bartley was named CEO/general manager. Bartley had been acting chief financial officer.
  • The first Empower Energy Education Workshop was held.
  • GCEC helped Talquin and Glades electric cooperatives following Hurricane Irma.
  • GCEC’s service territory grew, as Fanning Bayou added 201 homes and Hodges Bayou added 54 homes.


  • Trustee Waylon Graham died.
  • On October 10, Category 5 Hurricane Michael made landfall between Mexico Beach and Tyndall Air Force Base with winds exceeding 185 mph. The entire GCEC distribution system was without power. Reported damages totaled approximately $90 million. At the time, GCEC employed fewer than 80 people. More than 1,600 contractors and mutual aid crews were called in to help rebuild. All members capable of receiving power were restored within three weeks. GCEC still awaits reimbursement of storm expenses from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.


  • The COVID-19 pandemic changed the way GCEC did business, but not the service provided by the co-op. CEO/General Manager John Barley, left, and attorney Pat Floyd conduct the 2020 annual meeting virtually.

    Lester Sapp retired after 31 years of service.

  • Carl Goodson filled the board vacancy left by the death of Waylon Graham.
  • GCEC debuted its Live Line Safety demonstration trailer at its annual meeting.
  • Co-op employee Tommy Wood died.


  • GCEC closed office lobbies due to the pandemic. Business was done via drive-thru locations, and the annual meeting was held virtually.
  • The cooperative helped Wewahitchka High School hang photo banners recognizing the Class of 2020.
  • Mike Carlton and Andy Dick retired.
  • GCEC rebuilt lines on the Brothers River damaged by Hurricane Michael.
  • The co-op sent crews to help Baldwin EMC and Clarke- Washington EMC following hurricanes Sally and Zeta.
  • Employee Carl Elmore died.
Crews worked, but with social distancing.


  • Crews worked, but with social distancing.Ken Newsome retired.
  • For a second time, GCEC held its annual meeting virtually due to the pandemic.
    After more than a year of being closed due to COVID-19, GCEC reopened office lobbies.
  • For the second year, the Rural Electric Youth Tour to Washington, D.C., was canceled due to the pandemic.